Let’s face it – human nature is as unpredictable as politics. Putting into place your last will and testament, regardless of how careful you are, doesn’t mean it won’t be contested. In fact, contesting a will in New Hampshire happens far more often than many realize.
The last will and testament is supposed to be the final say on how property and assets are distributed to loved ones and other heirs. They’re important because it provides clear direction on a deceased person’s intentions and while many would never disrespect that process, it doesn’t mean it can’t happen. Many may contest a will because they believe it was written under undue influence or after the deceased had lost mental capacity due to dementia or Alzheimer’s. Typically, an individual won’t be successful in contesting a will just because someone feels they were slighted. There must be a legitimate reason to bring it to a court’s attention. Without a valid reason, it’s a waste of time and money.
Legal Standing to Dispute a Will
In order to have a “legal standing”, there must be a financial consideration that would affect the outcome. Keep in mind, those financial considerations don’t necessarily have to include cash, but may include real estate or other assets such as jewelry, cars, etc. Legal standing must also include a benefit through the intestacy laws had there not been a will. This sometimes happens, for instance, when someone doesn’t update their will to include a new baby.
Other reasons include the argument that the deceased did not have the mental capacity to create or update the will. Fraud or coercion is sometimes used and surprisingly, this often happens when one sibling feels slighted and accuses his or her sibling of using coercion to influence a parent. Sometimes, the question of whether the will was actually executed in accordance with the law comes into play. An example might include there was no witness or too few witnesses who could attest to the validity of the signature.
Contesting a Will in New Hampshire Could Cost You
For those seeking to contest a will, it’s important to remember that each state has its own guidelines. In fact, in New Hampshire, no contest clauses are sometimes contained in the will which are designed to prevent anyone from contesting the validity of a will simply because she believes it’s not fair. A no contest clause simply means if you fight it, you could lose anything else that had been left to you. On the other hand, if it’s proven that the fiduciary “committed a breach of his fiduciary duties or breach of trust”, it opens an entirely new dynamic.
Ultimately, these types of contests can be time consuming and quite expensive, so you really want to weigh your options carefully. The court may decide that the will is valid, that the entire will is invalid, or that only a portion of the will is invalid. Of course, there are some exceptions and the scope of a no contest clause can be specific, so it’s important before anyone decides to contest a will, that he first consult an attorney. To learn more, we invite you to contact our team of estate planning lawyers who are experienced in these changes to the law.